The reliance on the non verbal communication

The reliance on the non verbal communication

November 3, 2023

We were talking in the office the other day about a 16 year old ‘dumping’ his then girlfriend by text. Now it’s been 25 years since I was in the dating game, and phones were in their infancy then, but I am glad to say I have never ‘dumped’ or been ‘dumped’ by text.

For those assembled in the office talking about this ‘dumping’ the consensus was that this was the not the time for the favoured non verbal communication method of the Generation Z. Generation Z in the room disagreed!

As HR Consultants we find that it isn’t just Generation Z who want to use non verbal communication when face to face or phone call is the best option. So this got us thinking as to whether we rely too much as a society on the non verbal communication.

So what do we know about non verbal communication?

This covers written words (so emails, letters, texts, signs) and body language. Albert Merabian teaches us that the interpretation of a message is 7 percent verbal, 38 percent vocal and 55 percent visual. The conclusion was that 93 percent of communication is “nonverbal” in nature.

So non verbal definitely has its place. Thats why we have presentation slides, whcih we call visual aids to enhance the communication experience and road signs etc.

There’s a time and a place for non verbal communication. Here’s some examples:

  1. When we want someone to have something to refer to.
  2. When we don’t want to disturb someone’s train of thought.
  3. When we know that this is complicated and may need to be read and re-read.

So with that in mind, the email follow up to the meeting is useful, the text message asking for a call helps and the policy or procedure manual has its place.

What’s leading to this behaviour?

One word. Fear.

We feel that as non verbal will lead a smoother transaction. We fear that verbal and face to face might lead to conflict and confrontation. What happens is we say something we shouldn’t. What happens if I can’t answer their question. What will I do if they get upset?

Responses are natural. We should be prepared to talk through feelings. We should want to explain our thought process. We should want to hear what someone has to say.

So next time you are tempted to send a text rather than leave a voicemail ask yourself what’s behind this decision and could verbal be better than non verbal. If we can be of any assistance supporting your managers with any aspect of HR please call (see what we did there!) on 01527 909436.

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